These maps aren't like the others. Barney the Dinosaur is nowhere to be found.
Typically, weather junkies on social media herald the arrival of the polar vortex by superimposing pictures of Barney over temperature maps because of the extreme hues of purple that accompany its brutally cold temperatures.
There's a colder than purple on weather maps though: It's gray. Like death.
And, there's a big blob of gray showing up across the Upper Plains and Great Lakes next week.
The location of the troposphere #PolarVortex lobe is key to predicting most extreme cold. Updated GFS 00z model drops all of it over the Midwest & Great Lakes by Wednesday.
Signature of brutal, record setting cold. -20°F to -30s for actual lows. pic.twitter.com/kGKPmDsMJ6
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) January 24, 2019
How cold is gray? Experts peg it at minus 20 to minus 30.
Those are air temperatures, not wind chills.
Most of the coldest temperatures are expected to be found around the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes.
It's highly unlikely Buffalo would get anywhere close to that cold, for two reasons: climatology and the warming influence of Lake Erie. But, forecasters are already girding for some frigidly cold conditions in Western New York.
The National Weather Service has temperatures dropping into the low single digits on Tuesday night and rebounding only into the mid to high single digits for highs on Wednesday before dropping below zero overnight Wednesday and recovering back to the single digits above zero for Thursday's high.
Early models show there's a possibility it will be quite windy too. Winds close to 30 mph are possible, which could drive wind chills as low as minus 30.
The expected outbreak of cold isn't just social media hype. It's grabbing the attention of meteorologists and other respected weather experts.
Meteorologist Dave Zaff at the weather service's Buffalo office said the set up reminds him of...well, here let him tell you himself:
Next week’s ‘Polar Vortex’ has some impressive similarities to at least one notable past event. Buffalo won’t have a 36” snowpack to blow around, but it’s a near guarantee for extreme cold, some type of lake response, and perhaps very strong winds. Bliz...? I didn’t say it, yet. pic.twitter.com/arzhyHefPx
— David Zaff (@David_Zaff) January 24, 2019
It sounded so drastic that Don Paul, contributing meteorologist The Buffalo News, deemed it necessary to point out that Zaff is far from a doomsday peddler on Twitter.
Dave Zaff is the Science and Operations Officer of the NWS Buffalo Forecast Office. He is not an alarmist. He’s just trying to give you a heads up. https://t.co/oc9OSYYUKX
— Don Paul (@donpaulbitsosun) January 24, 2019
And, it's not just a northern tier of the U.S. thing either.
The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has eyeballs all over the weather maps too.
American and European models in remarkable agreement about vicious polar vortex invasion from Upper Midwest to Northeast next Wednesday. There is time for changes and details TBD but confidence building in significant Arctic outbreak. More info: https://t.co/UJbEl5sE3Q pic.twitter.com/CGvZYI3my5
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) January 24, 2019
And, national climatologists are already mining data for all-time records for cold.
— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) January 25, 2019
Now, about that ice at Niagara Falls...